Current Geologic Issues In New York State: From Carbon Dioxide Storage To Landsliding

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The work in this dissertation explores two topics: 1) the local and regional geologic carbon dioxide storage potential in the Upper Ordovician Queenston Formation, and 2) the causes of current displacement at two active landslides, as well as assess past landslide activity. The study site for both projects is central New York State. A site-specific CO2 storage assessment of the Queenston Formation is performed for a particular coal-fired power plant in central New York, and this formation is also regionally evaluated for CO2 storage potential in central New York. Well log, core, seismic, and outcrop data comprise the Queenston Formation data set. In Tompkins and Cayuga Counties, the Queenston Formation was deposited in a distributary fluvial system with mobile channels and no stable, long-lived flood plains. A static CO2 storage calculation reveals that a 25 square-mile area of the formation underlying a particular coal-fired power-plant in northern Tompkins County could store on average 18 years of CO2 emissions from that particular plant. Several regional interpretations of the Queenston Formation depositional system are constructed, but regardless of the depositional model, the Queenston Formation does not have porosity necessary for CO2 storage in western New York. A static CO2 storage calculation for the central New York study area reveals that the portion of the Queenston Formation with greater than 10% porosity can store approximately 5 x 10exp(9) metric tons of CO2, which is the equivalent of 120 years of state-wide power plant CO2 emissions. Data collected at two active landslides in glacio-lacustrine sediment in the Tully Valley, New York, reveal that several factors affect current landslide movement, including heavy rainstorms, the associated rise in ground-water levels with precipitation events, and stream-generated erosion of the landslide toe. Dendrogeomorphic techniques suggest that past landslide activity also results from a sequence of factors, including: (1) periods with below-average precipitation followed by persistent above-average precipitation, (2) the attendant increase in streamflow eroding the landslide toe, resulting in upslope slump propagation, and (3) the harvesting of trees within the landslide.
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